Is drinking juice as good as drinking water?

Introduction

Water and juice are two popular beverage choices. While both providehydration, they have some key differences when it comes to nutritional value and health effects. This article reviews the similarities and differences between drinking water and juice to help you determine which one may be better for you.

Water Content

One similarity between water and juice is their water content. Water makes up approximately:

Beverage Water Content
Water 100%
Fruit juice Around 88-93%
Vegetable juice Around 90-95%

As you can see, both water and juice are made up almost entirely of water. This water content is what helps them hydrate your body.

However, while juice contains a high percentage of water, the additional nutrients and sugar make it more concentrated than plain water. This means you need to drink more water than juice to achieve the same level of hydration.

Electrolyte Content

Electrolytes are minerals that help conduct nerve impulses and maintain fluid balance in the body. The main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate.

Plain water doesn’t contain any electrolytes. However, many juices provide electrolytes:

Beverage (1 cup) Sodium Potassium Calcium Magnesium
Coconut water 252mg 600mg 58mg 60mg
Orange juice 2mg 496mg 74mg 27mg
Apple juice 8mg 218mg 10mg 9mg

The electrolytes in juice can help replenish what’s lost through sweat during exercise. This makes juice a good option for rehydration after a workout.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

One of the key differences between water and juice is that juice contains vitamins and minerals, while water does not.

Different juices provide different nutrients based on their source fruit or vegetable. However, some of the main vitamins and minerals found in common juices include:

Nutrient Benefits Juices High in Nutrient
Vitamin C Immune function and collagen production Orange, grapefruit, tomato
Potassium Muscle function and water balance Coconut water, orange, spinach
Folate Cell growth and DNA production Orange, tomato, spinach

The vitamins and minerals in juice can help you meet your daily nutrient requirements. Just one serving of juice can provide over 100% of the RDI for some nutrients like vitamin C and folate.

However, juices high in sugar and calories may contribute excess amounts of some nutrients like vitamin A and iron. Moderation is key when getting nutrients from juice.

Sugar Content

One of the biggest differences between water and juice is their sugar content.

Beverage Sugar per Cup (g)
Water 0g
Apple juice 28g
Grapefruit juice 25g
Cranberry juice cocktail 33g
Orange juice 21g

While water contains no sugar, most juices have around 20–33 grams of sugar per cup. Even fresh-squeezed orange juice contains 21 grams.

This natural sugar in juice comes from the fruit’s own fructose and glucose. However, some bottled juices also contain added sugars like sucrose, corn syrup, or cane sugar.

Consuming too much added sugar can contribute to weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes (1, 2).

Therefore, it’s best to limit juice and focus on getting daily sugar from whole fruits instead. If you do drink juice, stick to small portions of low-sugar varieties like diluted or unsweetened cranberry juice.

Fiber Content

Fiber is a type of indigestible carb that promotes fullness, gut health, and healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels (3).

Juice contains little to no fiber since most of it is lost during the juicing process. Here is the fiber content per cup (240 ml) of some common juices compared to whole fruit:

Beverage/Food Fiber (g)
Apple juice 0.5g
1 medium apple with skin 4.4g
Orange juice 0.5g
1 medium orange 3.1g
Carrot juice 1.2g
1 large carrot 3.6g

Water contains no fiber. So in this regard, it’s equal to juice.

Overall, eating whole fruits and veggies is the best way to get fiber. Drinking juice should not replace fiber-rich solid foods in your diet.

Calorie Content

Water contains no calories, while juice is relatively high in calories compared to soda or other beverages.

Here are the calories per 8 ounces (240 ml) for some popular juice varieties:

Beverage Calories
Orange juice 112
Apple juice 114
Grapefruit juice 96
Cranberry juice cocktail 136
Tomato juice 41

While juice calories come from natural sugar in the produce, they can add up quickly, especially if you drink large or multiple servings per day.

Choosing lower calorie options like tomato or vegetable juice more often can help keep your calorie intake in check.

Benefits for Exercise

Because of their electrolytes and carbs, sports drinks and juices are sometimes recommended for exercise and sports.

Electrolyte-containing juices like coconut water have become popular choices for rehydrating after workouts instead of sugary sports drinks.

The carbs and sugars in juice can also help:

– Boost carb intake before exercise to maximize performance (4).

– Restore glycogen and blood sugar levels post-workout (5).

However, for most people doing moderate exercise, water is fine for hydrating before, during, and after exercise.

Keep in mind that fruit juice provides potassium and carbs but lacks sodium, so it may not replace everything lost in sweat for intense exercise.

Juice Versus Whole Fruit

While juice contains many nutrients, experts widely agree that getting produce in its whole, solid form is best. Here’s a look at some downsides of drinking juice versus eating whole produce:

– Lacks fiber found in the peel, flesh, seeds, and membranes of produce. Fiber is vital for digestion, heart health, and controlling blood sugar and appetite (3).

– High in free sugars and calories when consumed in excess. It’s easy to drink more calories than you realize.

– Loses some nutrients during juicing, such as vitamin C, which starts to degrade immediately after juice extraction (6).

– Can spike blood sugar. Lacks protein and fat to help slow sugar absorption (7).

– May discourage consumption of solid fruits and veggies to meet daily needs for those who drink juice as a meal replacement.

For best health, enjoy juices in moderation alongside balanced whole fruits and vegetables as part of your daily diet.

Should You Drink Juice or Water?

Drinking juice and water both have advantages and disadvantages:

Juice benefits:

– Provides essential vitamins and minerals

– Contains beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols

– Can be hydrating and replenish electrolytes after exercise

Juice downsides:

– High in natural and added sugars

– Low in fiber compared to whole fruit

– Can spike blood sugar levels rapidly

– Easy to consume excess calories and sugar through large portions

Water benefits:

– Zero calories

– Helps hydration without adding sugar

– Most accessible and low cost

– No limitations on amount consumed

Water downsides:

– Doesn’t provide nutrients and antioxidants

– May not replace electrolytes lost during exercise

Bottom line:

For regular hydration needs, water is superior to juice given its zero sugar and calories. However, the nutrients in juice can occasionally help support exercise performance and nutrient intake.

Enjoy juices in moderation alongside water and focus on getting daily produce needs from whole fruits and vegetables. Limit juice portions to 4–6 ounces (120–180 ml) per day and choose low-sugar varieties like diluted cranberry.

Pair juices with protein, fat, and fiber for better blood sugar control. Avoid replacing whole produce and solid meals with only juice.

Other Beverages To Hydrate Your Body

Water and juice are far from your only options for hydration. Here are a few other healthy beverages to hydrate your body:

Coconut water: Naturally packed with electrolytes like potassium. Look for unsweetened varieties.

Milk: Contains water, carbs, protein, calcium, and magnesium. Go for low fat or non-dairy options.

Tea: Hydrating and packed with antioxidants. Opt for unsweetened varieties without added sugars.

Vegetable juice: Provides hydration with less sugar than fruit juice. Choose low sodium options.

Sparkling water: An unsweetened, calorie-free alternative to plain water. Choose mineral water for added electrolytes.

Cold brew coffee: Provides hydration, antioxidants, and less acidity than hot coffee. Select unsweetened varieties.

Herbal tea infusions: Naturally sweet and caffeine-free. Try fruity variants like berry, peach, or mango.

Vary your beverage choices to find options that keep you hydrated while still providing flavor and health benefits tailored to your needs.

Conclusion

Water is the best beverage for regular hydration needs given its lack of sugar, carbs, and calories.

Juice can provide hydration in addition to vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. However, juice is high in natural sugar, so drinking too much can lead to excess sugar and calorie intake.

Enjoying juices occasionally or in moderation alongside water and eating whole fruits and vegetables regularly can help you reap the hydration and nutritional benefits of both.

Focus on well-rounded nutrition from solid foods as opposed to getting a majority of calories or nutrients from juices. Limit juice portions, choose vegetable or low-sugar varieties, and always pair juice with fiber, protein, and fat for better blood sugar control.

For most people, getting daily fluids primarily from water along with unsweetened teas, coffee, and sparkling water is optimal in terms of both hydration and limiting excess sugar in the diet. Juice can provide a delicious nutrient boost when used responsibly and in moderation.

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